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The Rachel Maddow Show

News/Business. (2011)

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Wisconsin 16, Jack Abramoff 10, Us 9, John Ensign 9, Libya 8, Walker 7, U.s. 6, Tim Phillips 6, Gadhafi 6, David Koch 5, Scott Walker 5, Scott Brown 5, Newt Gingrich 4, Koch 4, Rick Scott 4, Rachel 4, Scott 4, Ralph Reed 4, Tripoli 4, David Vitter 3,
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  MSNBC    The Rachel Maddow Show    News/Business.  (2011)  

    March 8, 2011
    4:00 - 5:00am EST  

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fo llow me on facebook and twitter. "the rachel maddow show" is up next. what kind of koch brothers influence do they have in wisconsin. >> thanks for joining us for the next hour. when it became clear that john mccain and sarah palin were a bad choice for the republican presidential ticket in 2008, when it started to become clear that barack obama and joe biden were going to win that election and probably win pretty big, right before that election took place something kind of weird started happening in presidential politics. the tactics of what had always been the political fringe, the kind of stuff that hecklers, the fringe stuff started to be voiced by at least one of the candidates themselves. although it felt weird at the time, i don't think it was by accident. i don't think it was even unpredictable. at the time we were reporting on this turn in presidential politics. this is right before the '08 election.
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we said on the air on the show that what was happening should be considered a new law in american political science. >> i here by submit the locker it is clear that liberals and democrats win an election, longer it is clear that liberals or democrats win an argument, the more likely it becomes that someone is going to get called a commie. socialist, five-year planner. >> taking more from a small business or small business owner or a hard working family and redistributing that family according to a politician's priorities, there are hints of socialism in there. >> hints of socialism, with 15 days to go, best thing they can come up with is barack obama is a socialist, he is a commie. that was two weeks before the 2008 election. and that law, that principle, i swear it still holds through.
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the longer a political argument goes on and the longer it is clear that the liberal side of that argument is winning, the more likely it becomes that somebody is going to get called -- >> unions for america. i won't listen to them. i said what america do you want to be for, socialist america? the socialists have come into madison. it is a fact, card carrying socialist, card carrying communist. >> card carrying. tada! joe the plumber, still around. mr. the plumber appeared in wisconsin this weekend as a featured speaker on a koch brothers sponsored counter protest, pro-republican bus tour to try to make it seem like those tens of thousands in the streets of madison and rallying against the republican union stripping thing, that's really just one side.
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there is another protest movement, too, a movement made up of buses paid for by the koch brothers and hired talent like mr. the plumber. this bus to your thing should seem familiar. there was the bloody red hand print hands off my healthcare bus tour from the health reform debate. remember that, that was the same koch brothers funded group that did the wisconsin buses. there was the big novice coming bus tour that the koch brothers group launched before the mid term elections. this whole bus tour instant fake movement thing is really becoming a robust cottage industry for some corporations. they like to make it look like there are humans on their side, so they pay in order to make that impression. you get like a rally for the oil industry. remember this one, in houston. actually made up of oil industry employees who were bussed to the rally by their company, making it part of people's jobs to go to rally in support of their
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corporation. or you get the american coal industry launching its faces of coal website, where clip art stock photos of people are passed off as real live humans who support the coal industry and have faces. sometimes the most direct way to see through this kind of corporate funded pr made to look like real politics is just by looking at the fine print on the signs. that big pro-oil rally in houston featured signs carrying the fine print "energy citizens". what's that? almost ungoogleable, if you persist, you find it is an organization created by the american petroleum institute. now, this weekend we got the same sort of corporate funded rent a movement thing going on up in wisconsin. and it is not just a pattern, it is like a template. they always do it the same way. here are the signs they were holding at the anti-union rally in wisconsin yesterday. they say stand with walker.
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then what's that, what's the fine print? what's that? oh, a project of americans for prosperity. americans for prosperity founded by david koch, substantially funded by the oil billionaire koch brothers. americans for prosperity saw their budget balloon from $7 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2010, as the koch brothers turned their influence efforts up. that means more bus tours. the guy the koch brothers have in charge of americans for prosperity is a real pro at this. remember the jack abramoff scandal, that was a crime syndicate that was stomach turning in lots of different ways. but one of the most nauseating things about that scandal was tim phillips part of it. ralph read, he was with the christian coalition before he worked with jack abramoff. what did he use them for?
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he used them to gin up fake christian political support for whatever jack abramoff's clients needed. say jack had a casino as a client. he would get the marketing company run by tim phillips and ralph reed to start a we are christians and we are outraged against gambling campaign. what would that do? that would keep new casinos from being built that might compete with jack abramoff's client casino. they were getting anti-gambling christians to inadvertently maximize casino profits for jack abramoff's clients. or remember this, the northern islands, u.s. commonwealth, a helpful map, look, it is a dot. the u.s. government did an investigation into working conditions there, and found that sweatshop workers there were not only working in sweatshop conditions, they were forced into prostitution. they were forced to have
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abortions. so maybe stuff being manufactured under those conditions, forced abortions, maybe the stuff of corporations shouldn't carry the made in the usa label. maybe they haven't earned that. in the mid 1990s, jack abramoff took on the northern mariana islands as a client and put tim phillips and ralph reed on the case. they got them to lobby their member of congress in favor of forced abortion, forced prostitution sweatshop on the grounds that the chinese laborers were being introduced to jesus while they were there. presumably, that was between the forced abortions and forced prostitution. i asked him about it when we had him on the show in 2009. his answer was essentially, you know, that was a really long time ago. may have been a long time ago. dude still has the same basic job. he doesn't work for jack abramoff any more. he went to prison for that kind of stuff.
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now tim phillips works for the koch brothers, helping to gin in support for their corporation. then they get joe the plumber to denounce the koch brothers opponents as card carrying communists. and of course to make it look like the koch brothers cause that overwhelming support. four day, ten city bus tour of wisconsin by tim phillips's group culminated in several hundred turning up for a rally in madison saturday. according to the group's state director, afp's state director, turnout of 600 people in madison was the largest on the entire ten city tour. americans for prosperity and tim phillips aside, the republicans and koch brothers governor, scott walker, have lost this one of more polling shows the state is lopsided in dealings with walker and the republicans. despite some bad reporting today
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that the standoff over the republican union stripping plan was coming to an end, it doesn't seem like it is, and the longer this goes on, longer it becomes clear the liberal side is winning. i am telling you, the more people will be called communists. it's a rule. and the more guys like the koch brothers will have to spend to make up for the devastating political costs the republicans have incurred by picking and losing this fight in the american midwest. state senator jon erpenbach joins us, he is one of the 14 state senators that remain outside of wisconsin to deny republicans the quorum needed for the union stripping bill. good to see you, senator. thank you for your time. >> thanks, rachel. >> there was this reporting late last night and early this morning that democrats were going to head back to wisconsin. the whole thing was about to come to an end. what was your reaction to that reporting? >> when you say the headline i was surprised. i saw the quote from senator miller. and he wasn't saying anything we
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weren't saying, we are ready to go back. it is not up to us. it is up to the republicans to sit down, come to resolution over this. i talked to senator miller last night. we were frustrated last thursday night because we thought there was some sort of head way with governor walker and then the senate republicans thursday passed a resolution saying if we crossed state lines, we would be arrested, which isn't incentive to go back. we were surprised we were getting signs from walker administration that maybe we are going to move forward, but from the senate republicans, taking a big step back. there is a little frustration on that which led to the article sunday night. we are where we were from the beginning. taking it very much day by day. we continue to reach out. senator miller sent a letter to governor walker today and senator fitzgerald, asking them to come and sit down and talk things over. the response we got wasn't the warmest. so we continue to stay here, reach out. >> in terms of how this might
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end, what would you need to hear from governor walker or from the republicans in order to get you back? what are you waiting to hear? >> that's a really good question. first of all, we would like to hear they are honest and sincere in efforts to bring resolution to this. we have been very up front about why we are here and about what we would like to see changed in the budget repair bill or big state budget coming up now as well. there's a couple different ways to get out of here. first of all, you can take an amendment that the state assembly had on the floor to restore a lot of what governor walker wanted to take away from collective bargaining. the other option which seems to be the stumbling block is collective bargaining as a whole. they are not budging, we are not budging. take out that language in the budget repair bill, put it in the biennial budget and we can debate the next couple of months. people would be able to weigh in on it, done in the light of day and most importantly would be done face to face. >> governor walker is conceding
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that on his own side of the aisle he may have lost one of the budget repair bill votes. he was counting on dale schultz. without his vote, republicans could only stand to lose two other votes and withstand this. do you think one way this might resolve, somebody might persuade to others to vote against what walker is doing? >> there's a couple of things going on back home. obviously we've seen the polls. you have seen the left leaning, middle of the road polls and right leaning polls and all say the same, that the governor should take the compromise. most conservative poll came out sunday saying 67% of people in wisconsin supported that. if you are a senator in wisconsin and look at all of the recall efforts and seeing how quickly the democratic side are gathering signatures, take the poll results, recall information you have, and that might nudge you to say look, we need to bring resolution to this right away.
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there are moderate members of the caucus. just to be fair here, we get along with them very well outside of the capitol mostly, but get along with them fine. i know that as a fact, if collective bargaining were taken out, voted separately, it wouldn't pass the senate. there would be five or six republicans that would vote against it. obviously it is causing a great deal of concern. they seem to be under more pressure than we do, based on the comments of senator fitzgerald at the press conference. we are going to do what we've been doing. we are staying here, we are going to reach out, try to come to a compromise so we can come home and vote. >> one other thing i want to ask because you seem closer to this than i am, and neither of us are in wisconsin. we hear rumors there will be a tractor motorcade saturday. are you hearing these rumors? >> yes, i am. as you know, we have a strong ag community in wisconsin. very politically involved on both sides of the aisle. they are going to join the
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protesters saturday and bringing their combines and tractors down to the square, showing up in full force. and that's great to see. obviously ag is an extremely important industry in the state of wisconsin, we need to keep that as strong as we possibly can. they certainly are supporting our efforts and more importantly the protesters' efforts in madison. it will be cool to see. if not doing anything, rachel, on saturday, might be good to hop a plane out there. >> i hear you. i am taking it under consideration. wisconsin state senator jon erpenbach in exile in chicago. thank you for your time. >> thanks. eugene robinson in a moment in the studio. richard engel live from libya. and the bizarre spectacle of john ensign, finally resigning from the senate because of his sex scandal, but years after that sex scandal happened. that is all coming up. first, one more thing about scott walker's union stripping folly in wisconsin.
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remember when his administration said protesters had caused so much damage to the state capitol that it was going to cost $7.5 million to clean up the horrible, horrible mess the protesters made and repair everything they had broken? walker's administration has now said that maybe that 7.5 million figure was a little high. they have since revised the cleaning estimate downward by 95.3%! i know. never mind!
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want to see one of the koch brothers get begged for money by a real live sitting u.s. senator on tape? want to? >> made a difference. i could certainly use it again. >> already banging away. think progress posting that clip of massachusetts republican senator scott brown, my senator, telling the real david koch how important that koch brothers money was to him and how he could really, really, really use some more, please. and the koch brothers have, in fact, been good to senator scott brown. in november, 2009 when scott brown's race was the only impending senate race, david koch gave $30,000 to the nrc.
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the koch brothers pac gave the committee 15,000 more, and gave the campaign 5,000 directly. they have given tens of thousands to another republican scott, this guy, scott walker, which is why someone impersonating david koch was able to get governor walker on the phone last month for twenty minutes in the middle of what was supposedly a grueling state budget crisis. repercussions from that call to governor walker continue to reverb rate for the governor. he tipped his strategy, he talked about tricking state democrats back. he explained how he would use the threat of laying off state workers for its political effect. now that prank call gives governor walker a whole new headache. wisconsin state democrats filed ethics complaint over what mr.
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walker said to the guy he thought was david koch, or what walker said to the man he believed was the oil billionaire that funded his campaign, specifically raising ethical concerns about this part. >> the coming days and weeks and months ahead, particularly in some of these more swing areas, and a lot of these guys don't necessarily need ads for them, but need a message reinforcing why this was good to do for the economy and good to do for the state. so to the extent that message is out over and over again, that's obviously a good thing. >> wisconsin governor scott walker suggesting to the fake david koch that the real david koch should get out the message for republicans, raising the idea of a little koch funded independent expenditure to support the state's republican senators, particularly in swing districts. you know, that's the thing about independent expenditures. if a politician suggests them, they are no longer independent. wisconsin democrats say mr.
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walker was not only illegally coordinating campaign expenditures in that moment, he was soliciting david koch's financial help from the governor's office inside the state capitol. you are not supposed to solicit campaign contributions from your public office. talking about the koch brothers in 2011 is starting to feel like talking about karl rove in 2004. if you care about progressive politics or even fair play in 2011, you really can't get away from the koch brothers. they are becoming way too ubiquitous. they come up in every political scandal, from wisconsin union busting and phony astro turf bus tours to the questionable partiality of the american supreme court justices. every time a political scandal erupts big or small, there are the koch brothers with a chair pulled up to the table. i do not want it to be true. i am sick of these guys already. but every time you turn over a political rock, there they are. new example. the consumer product safety
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commission database scheduled to go on line this week. online searchable database the public can use to find out about safety concerns for household products. sort of a no brainer. passed house of representatives in 2007. passed the senate by a mile. the legislation creating it was signed by george bush, zero controversy. who is going to object to consumer product safety information being put online? this guy will. the vote american slogan has to do with the fact that mike pompeo was running against an indian american opponent. vote american, even though the other guy is american or he wouldn't be able to run, but you know what i mean. pompeo was elected thanks to campaign contributors and their pac.
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after the koch brothers spent many thousands lobbying on the issue of that dastardly consumer product safety database, they found one congressman willing to try to kill it. mike pompeo of koch brothers, i mean kansas. he tried to spike the database. the kansas city star reporting it looks like he will fail in those efforts, but i am sure the men upstairs appreciate his efforts anyway. i do not want to keep talking about the koch brothers. really, i do not. i want to say it is koch because of the way it is spelled. they are boring. i do not want their names in the spotlight. but dude, these guys are earning it every single day. joining us now, eugene robinson, msnbc political analyst, pulitzer prize winning columnist for "the washington post." good to see you. >> great to see you. >> are koch industries and the koch brothers earning the reputation like i think they are? i am prepared to be told they
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are boogie men and being blamed for more than they should be. >> they are out working for you every single day. look, the difference between the koch brothers and karl rove or lee atwater or others that may have played a villain role, these are the money guys. these are the guys with all the money in the world. these are the guys that own the biggest private or second biggest, depending how you calculate it, in the country. their combined personal fortune a third to that of bill gates and warren buffet. so you have not heard the last of the koch brothers. >> and does that explain the timing, because we have entered in the post citizens united universe into an era in which there really are unlimited horizons in terms of what money can buy you in politics. i mean, they've been politically active a long time, but they turned it up to 11. they are doing more than they used to be doing. does that explain the timing?
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>> that partly explains the timing. everyone has cottoned onto the koch brothers. they did a lot of stuff for awhile that we didn't really hear about. it's not that they just turned libertarian. one of them founded kato foundation, another founded americans for prosperity. they've been out there working. it's just that we're paying attention, frankly, and yes, they are doing more. >> because people are cottoning to them, are we getting to the point that a koch brothers endorsement starts being a liability for either candidates or causes that they endorse? >> i don't think we are quite there. we could get there. i think some candidates, for example, now, scott brown in the state like massachusetts, that's embarrassing to him. that's a problem i think, given he has to run in essentially a blue state. for other candidates, it wouldn't be a problem. i frankly think the koch brothers would be just as happy
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to kind of fade into the background, let the money do the talking, and not be out front at all. >> i think that may be what has changed. that they able to successfully think it quiet. they've been convening major donor conservative strategy sessions for years. you knew about them vaguely in a conspiracy sense, but now they seem angry about that. i do wonder if that means that they can marginalize criticism of them as being liberal and therefore hysterical. >> i think they can try. i think what people have to do is look at what they're actually doing. now, it wasn't a real koch brother talking to governor scott walker, for example, it was a fake koch brother, but i think people will start looking at things like independent expenditures and that sort of thing in connection with the koch brothers. now that we know they're doing all this stuff, let's see if it's all on the up and up.
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even post citizens united, there are rules. >> congressman pompeo has a long history with the koch brothers. not only helped him get elected, helped him get rich by investing in a firm he founded. do we have a sense of who the koch brothers caucus is in congress? obviously mike pompeo is a chairman, scott brown is a ranking member. getting a sense of who they are? >> we certainly don't have a full sense. i think we'll be trying to put together that database, maybe even put it online someday along with the other database they want to keep off line. an amazing story. we can't have that. >> not if the koch brothers say you can't. >> great to see you, eugene. >> great to be here. next on the republican to do list, taking on the other subversive financial titans whose lavish material
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indulgences bankrupted state covers nationwide. finally a governor with the starch to take something back from private jet taking swiss bank account holding public school teachers. stay tuned. ♪ [ male announcer ] for the things you can't wash, freshen it with febreze. febreze eliminates odors and leaves a light, fresh scent. it's a breath of fresh air. maybe you don't think you're at risk for heart attack or stroke but if you've been diagnosed with p.a.d., or have pain or heaviness in your legs, i want to talk to you. you may have heard of poor leg circulation, which could be peripheral artery disease, or p.a.d. with p.a.d., if you have poor circulation in your legs,
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you are a senior, very visible member of your organization, whatever that organization is. a business, a troop, a bowling league. you are given principal responsibility for the advancement of the cause.
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your organization likes the cut of your jig. then you fail to advance the organization's cause while simultaneously getting someone who works for a guy that is married who works for you. did i mention your married, too. you give them a job and mom and dad pay to the person and all of it becomes public? you are fired. if you are self-employed, you fire yourself. you have a hard time finding work again because not even you would hire you. that's the way it works for humans. unless you're nevada senator john ensign. in that case, all that have happens. you keep your job a couple years until you decide to retire to put your family first, and serve out the term with pay and government-run healthcare. john ensign and the parallel universe of his culture war party. and more on newt gingrich,
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what you're looking at is footage from the last few days of how intense the fighting has been in libya and in towns like this near the capitol city of tripoli. in this thing we may be calling a civil war, it is military and mercenary forces supporting moammar gadhafi on one side, against some defected military and as you can tell from images a lot of civilians on the other
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side, some who are learning to fire weapons for the first time, then firing them in live combat on that same day. president obama said today that all options in response to violence in libya remain on the table, including military options as the u.s. tries to stop gadhafi's use of military force against his own people. but right now, none of the options for how we or the west or anybody can intervene in libya seem clear or easy. france and britain are drafting a no fly zone resolution to be taken up at the un if they so choose but that probably won't go there because russia has veto power. they said they are opposed to military intervention, including implementing a no fly zone in libya. even if nato or some other body wants a no fly zone, it is not sure it will stop most of the fighting or large scale military attacks on rebels and civilians. fighter jets don't seem to be the decisive hardware in the fight.
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gadhafi can do massive damage, inflict enormous harm, without starting a single jet engine. even low key attempts at intervention have been going awry. they've been holding three dutch marines more than a week. they were part of a small effort to evacuate dutch civilians britain found its way into a mess in libya. the prime minister tried to make good on a promise to establish british contact with rebel forces in libya's east. he definitely tried. but as they say in britain, it all went pear shaped. he had to go to house of commons to explain why a team of british special forces troops and intelligence officer were deposited in rebel territory with no advance warning by helicopter at 2:00 in the morning. we know this is how they arrived because once they landed, they got arrested by the rebels with
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whom they were establishing glorious we come in peace relations. they detained the british forces against their will and ultimately released them and sent them home. joining us live, nbc news chief foreign correspondent, richard engel. thank you very much for being with us. appreciate it. >> reporter: it is always a pleasure, rachel. that story about the british special forces is just one of a series of almost ridiculous stories that have come out of this. you have the libyan propaganda on one side, then you have this incredibly badly botched attempt at establishing diplomatic relationships, proving to be the weirdest of all middle east revelations. >> on the issue of weirdness in particular the libyan propaganda, it seems like the libyan propaganda, state media
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end of this is being done better by gadhafi than it has been done by other dictators and others in the region facing the big protest movements. >> well, i wouldn't say it is better, but it is being more believed. you have a constant barrage of state media, of state television, radio playing songs in favor of gadhafi. you can almost hear it in your head when you go and sleep at night. you can hear the songs over and over. that's how repetitious they are. and people talked about the new media and twitter and facebook. this has been a conflict where the old fashioned styles of propaganda, radio and television, are still being used, and are still being used somewhat effectively, even though the argument has been ridiculous that the protesters are all drug addicts, that
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they've been taking pills. people in tripoli seem to be accepting it, and they were telling us here in tripoli we could go for ourselves to see truckloads of tiny pills that were seized, supposedly coming from china as an attempt to corrupt the morals of the people. but on the british side, it is just a catastrophic error what happened, and you have to think the british came in. they wanted to establish these diplomatic ties with the rebels. they came in a helicopter. they have foreign intelligence and army officer. they land in farm land in the middle of the night in a helicopter, then immediately get surrounded and arrested by farmers, then handed over. they had weapons, they had false passports. none of this was necessary.
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the british war ships were already -- had already gone in and out of the port of benghazi. they had good relations with the rebels. they were supposedly looking for a hotel and advanced team so that a larger british operation and british contingency could come. we and other people knew where all the hotels were. you could just go up and drive to the rebels. they weren't hiding in any way. like i said, the brits have already been in contact with them, but no, they arrive in helicopters, middle of the night. they get arrested. then conversations between the rebels and the british foreign secretary are all recorded and then played on state television, giving gadhafi's regime yet another propaganda coups. >> that is unbelievable. it is a comedy of errors. do you think it is also more than a comedy of errors?
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should this be a cautionary tale in terms of what other countries are thinking of doing in terms of intervention or trying to involve themselves bodily by inserting troops or other sorts of forces into libya into this conflict? >> we have just confirmed that saudi arabia is already sending weapons to help the rebels here, and there had been reports it was involved with the united states. we're told the united states is not involved, but that the sawed east are sending it in. they are worried about a long term conflict here because although gadhafi talks about al qaeda and all the rebels are al qaeda, there is al qaeda presence in this country. there is an al qaeda presence, but it is taking advantage of the chaos. and saudi arabia and other governments in the region would like to see this conflict resolved much more quickly so that the al qaeda militants don't have an opportunity,
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particularly al qaeda in the mugrab, the region of north africa where we are now doesn't have the ability to take over, because al qaeda is using this to an advantage. at least saudi arabia is taking active steps to help the rebels in order to finish the conflict more quickly. >> nbc news chief foreign correspondent, richard engel live from the bizarre and tragic scene that is tripoli. thank you for staying up late, joining us, richard. really appreciate it. >> my pleasure, rachel. as good and gas get more expensive, is it more than supply and demand. is the price spike coming from wall street. when you couldn't be more alienated from that, ed schultz has more on why things cost more. an amazing series, kicks off tonight. and john ensign's early retirement. and a quick and easy way to find out if you have a bad case the whole country basically
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the whole country basically other than north dakota has been in a very deep recession, 49 different states have budgetary misery right now. here is a simple test called the rick scott test. a simple test for determining whether or not, whether your quality of life and your share of the american dream is going
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to shrivel significantly this year for a real economic reason or just because you have a bad governor. we call this the rick scott test because elected florida governor rick scott didn't just use a deficit to justify cutting public education down to the bone and through it. he didn't say oh, our state deficit is so bad i've got to kill education to make the deficit better. no, rick scott gets the bad governor test named after him because rick scott found a way to make huge, devastating cuts to education in a way that does not help the state's budget deficit at all. rick scott has just announced his new budget in florida. it takes more than $1.7 billion out of the public schools and instead of putting that money back into the budget gives it away in corporate and property tax breaks. so k-12 education gets absolutely eviscerated in the state of florida and the money saved by the state no longer spending the money on the
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schools doesn't close the state budget gap at all. it leaves it roughly exactly as is and instead gives the saved money away in the form of tax cuts so you get all of the pain and none of the gain. is your state about to become a much worse place to live because of an actual economic shortfall in your state or is your state about to become a much worse place to live because it's just what your governor wants? it is the rick scott test. it's empirical. tax cut for dummies.
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i'm david vitter and i'm running for the u.s. senate for the sake of our children. there are a lot of things i'm going to change. >> great. start by changing jazz. >> david vitter with his family values image elected to the united states in 2004 but two and a half years into the senate term his name popped up in the phone records of the d.c. madame. he never faced criminal prostitution charges but did
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admit to something he called a very serious sin and then he just stuck around. he stayed. he stayed in the senate. the republican party essentially stood by him and this past november david vitter was re-elected. david vitter the hooker guy. still there. senator ensign also ran for office on the basis of his family values. in 1998 he called on president clinton to resign the presidency because of the monica lewinsky affair saying of the president, quote, he has no credibility left. in 2004 mr. ensign took a chest thumping sanctimonious stand on behalf of the sanctity of marriage saying in the united states senate, marriage is the corner stone on which our society was founded. for those who say the constitution is so sacred we could not or should not adopt the federal marriage amendment banning marriage rights for gay people i would point out it predates the constitution and the founding of our nation.
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the sanctity of marriage very important to ensign in 2004 when he was pushing for a marriage amendment to define marriage as not for the homos. in the summer of 2009, however, we learned that john ensign had had an affair with the wife of one of his staffers. who was also a staffer of his. he hired their son to work for the republican party while he was with the young man's mom. then both the wife he was sleeping with and her husband had to quit working for john ensign. i don't have the heart to inquire what happened to the son. at or around which point they had to leave his employ senator ensign's parents paid the husband and wife $96,000. $96,000. they tried really hard to make it sound like a gift. here is the most awkward lawyer letter of all time which is apparently drafted to get that job done. in april, 2008 senator ensign's parents each made gifts to doug hampton, cindy hampton and two children in a check totaling $96,000. each gift was limited to $12,000.
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the payments were made and accepted as gifts and complied with tax rules governing gifts. after the senator told his parents about the affair his parents decided to make the gift out of concern for long time friends during a difficult time. one check to the couple and two of their children. do the math. adds up to $96,000. of course the hamptons have three children. so john ensign's very generous parents in order to make this math work out must just not have liked the third hampton child very much. no 12 grand gift for you, third hampton child. yeah. having done a very bad job making this all seem okay, having done a very bad job as senate campaign chairman which he was during all the affairs stuff, after weathering an fbi investigation of the cover up and still under a senate ethics investigation senator ensign never lost the public support of the republican party and announced today that on his own
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terms he is leaving the senate. insisting beyond all shadow of irony that really he needs to put his family first. >> as you all know campaigns are ugly enough today. and this campaign would be exceptionally ugly. and because of that, i don't want to put my family through that. for these reasons i will not be seeking re-election in 2012. >> he always puts his family first. senator ensign today also giving a statement that needed very awkward levels of annotation. >> i want to pay a special word of thanks to my loyal staff. during this time it's been very difficult on them but they have handled themselves with professionalism and have served the people in the state of nevada in an extraordinary way. >> asterisk. when he says he wants to pay a special word of thanks to his
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loyal staff for their professionalism what he is saying is not the staff member i was with or the staff member whose wife i was with. that's not what i mean. but the rest of my loyal staff that is who he is thanking for being loyal and professional. john ensign is not in any rush here. he says he is sticking around for the rest of his term, more than a year and a half left in the rest of his term at this point. of course, he'll continue to work alongside david vitter in the senate through that time and will be there through the republican presidential nominating process which just today afforded newt gingrich addressing the iowa freedom coalition and forum in an event designed they say to keep social issues things like marriage and sexual reality on the front burner of politics. newt gingrich gave a barn burner of a statement about the importance of morality. newt gingrich of course who admitted to having an affair with a house staffer while still married to his second wife while the exact time he as speaker of the house was leading the impeachment of president clinton for supposed sexual immorality today lecturing the nation on morality.
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the coalition is run by ralph reed who you may remember from earlier in tonight's show as the guy who together with tim phillips was caught up in the jack abramoff scandal, behind the let's get christians to be outraged about a new casino that might compete with one of jack abramoff's client casinos. also behind the mariana islands thing. the u.s. did an investigation into working conditions there and found forced prostitution and forced abortions going on. but they were a jack abramoff client so it became part of an effort by lobbyists. tonight ralph reed was speaking at the iowa faith and freedom coalition all about making sure social issues and values maintain a key spot on the republican agenda. good-bye, john ensign. in a c